Patty Mechael participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2015. During this residency, she began a journey as a fiction writer that led to The Antidotes: Pollution Solution (Bold Story Press, 2022). Patty is a public health specialist, co-founder and policy lead at HealthEnabled, and a Senior Associate at the Center for Global Digital Health Innovation in the Department of International Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
A few words with Patty
“I was in Bellagio to write an essay on the history of mobile health (mHealth) and the future of digital health, but while I was there I was inspired and encouraged to pursue my childhood dream to write fiction.
“Writing science or public health-inspired middle grade fiction was both fun and challenging. Because I love science, I found it hard to play up characters and plot while ensuring that the science was both realistic and correct.
“The most memorable presentation during my time at the Bellagio Center was by Ruta Sepetys, who was working on her third novel, Salt to the Sea. I was inspired by her path to fiction writing, and while we were in Bellagio she took me under her wing and encouraged me to start writing fiction. I wrote my first novel outline while I was in Bellagio and have been writing fiction ever since.”
A Quote from The Antidotes
“No one wants to believe that [a pandemic] could happen again, so they aren’t doing anything about it. No kid would ever let it get out of control if they could help it. Not if it means kids die.”
The Antidotes showcases a stimulating adventure for kids and touches on returning to normalcy after a global pandemic, the challenges of grief, and co-parenting in an age-friendly way.
The Chesapeake Bay has become polluted by a stinky plastic-eating bacteria, pee yew! But fifth-grade friends Izi, Gir, and others take action together by forming an activist group called the Antidotes, and join forces with public health activists to find clean water solutions. The friends use STEM strategies to help save the earth from a potential disaster – they also have secret meetings, do a little spy work, and make some useful discoveries.
Along the way, they learn to embrace their differences, and discover that they are stronger when they all work together. The Antidotes race against the clock to get out the word to kids around the world about how to stay safe. But – will the Antidotes be able to get enough kids to reduce their plastic use before it makes any more fish or kids sick?